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Colorado is Home to U.S’s First Recreational Pot Center

Update Date: Jan 02, 2014 09:34 AM EST

Over the past few years, marijuana has slowly been legalized in select states for medicinal purposes only. Residents within those states, such as California, must get a prescription from their doctors before buying and using medicinal marijuana. Although this substance is still federally illegal, Colorado has become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.

In 2012,the majority of registered voters within the state had voted for the approval of a legal pot industry. This statewide industry came into effect January 1. Marijuana is now available for consumers over the age of 21. Despite the age restriction, some critics are worried that this industry will make marijuana even more accessible to adolescents. Others believe that legalization will better control the substance.

"Honesty, I thought I'd never see the day," commented Errin Reaume according to Medical Xpress.

"I'm going to frame the receipt when I go home, to remind myself of what might be possible. Legal everywhere," added James Aaron Ramsey. He served a short jail sentence for possession less than a year ago.

One of the new centers, Rocky Mountain Mile High Tours, welcomed people who were eager to purchase pot during the beginning of the New Year, dubbed Green Wednesdays by enthusiasts. The industry has a very elaborate tracking system for the substance with the hopes of keeping marijuana out of the black market. There are also intricate labeling and testing requirements. For the products categorized as edible pot, the state has placed a limit on the potency level. Officials are regulating marijuana in a very similar way to how they monitor liquor.

"Adults have been buying marijuana around this country for years," said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. "The only difference is that in Colorado they will now buy it from legitimate businesses instead of the underground market."

Colorado is not the only state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Washington State has also passed a similar law, which will start mid-year. Outside of the U.S., Uruguay became the first nation to regulate marijuana after passing a law in December. Currently, there are over 40 shops opened throughout the state. Even though the federal government gives marijuana sales, especially medicinal marijuana sales, some leeway, federal officials have expressed that they would intervene at any moment if they believe that the substance is ending up in the hands of adolescents.

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